The past upon reflection provides a rather meaningless expose of a diary of events whose eventual end remains in a state of animated suspension. As life is observed through the lens of our story the passing of time and the memories associated with that story become diary entries surrealistic in nature. Everything I thought was substantial at a present time is reducible to the evaluative recollection of a dream; purposeless in intent, shoddy in appearance, chaotic in exercise and yet containing the mystical and magical rendering of a life lived. Reality is that the substance of life is in the past. The brevity of the present refutes any argument proclaiming its prominence as the sum total of life. If it were not for memory I would quite plausibly have no life.
The mystical aspect of one's life is what contains the life. The story or history cannot hold the drive, ambition, and life that leads a person to act, so decisively, so purposefully, without regard for consequences; without regard for error; to act without concern for the recounting of the record of one's actions; to act without respect for the uncaptured intent of one's activities; to live without esteeming the moment of decision, because in that essence of the story, within those indiscernible variables the self of the individual is embodied. The story only reveals the vigorous aspects of life lived, it does not tell of the self, that part of the individual known only to God; that part of the story hidden in actions and efforts; the surreptitious movements of the soul; the covert intrinsic motivations that compel the will.
... am I compell'd to set
Upon one battle all (my) liberties.
That is life. That is the one battle. That is the struggle that is not told. That is the fight the diary does not reveal. The one life I have to live, but that story is the life and the revelation of that life and the only one that will be told ... and forgotten.
Any objective account of one's life will necessarily leave out the animating life force that gave purpose and meaning to the acts that can seem so lifeless in retrospect. That is inevitable, for the subjective is veiled and masked mysterious and awful and silent. The intent is lost in the action, the revealed, more appropriately in the consequence and the accountability and judgement upon that action. The motivations resolve themselves into reflections on the causes. I view life under the constraints of memory and accept that for the most part my life is recorded instances of action and relationship, some quite disappointing in retrospect. Life does not come with a 'satisfaction guaranteed' sticker.
Job 18:17, "The memory of him perishes from the earth, and he has no name among the renowned."
Psalm 31:12, "I am forgotten like a dead man, out of mind; I am like a broken vessel."
Eccles. 9:5, "For the living know that they will die; but the dead know nothing, and they have no more reward, for the memory of them is forgotten."
Isaiah 26:14, "They are dead, they will not live; They are deceased, they will not rise. Therefore You have punished and destroyed them, and made all their memory to perish."
As I look upon the corpse of my life, that shadow of existence, the shades of the past, the deceased life, (for what is past is dead) there lies opportunity upon reflection to dwell upon the the absence of the eternal influence and distinction that I desired as an outcome of my living. Reality is I will be forgotten as those who have gone before are now forgotten. With this realization there comes the astonishment, the force of the fact that this is 'death', a tortured intense agony of life. Socrates said, 'true wisdom is the skill and practice of death' and it is presumed that by this death which is referred to as 'wisdom' he meant the death of our passions and desires and vain opinions. Not so ...
Life requires only the storing, retention and retrieval of those items of memory fit for the pursuit of life now, and in this we see the basis for continued survival. I teach with my life but in that lies the false; the frail; the futile; the worthless; the life riddled with failure.
What can I do with the burden of evidence proclaiming my ignominious existence? What can I do with the burden of guilt for my inabilities and slothful attitudes to build the prominent and eternal? What can I do when my living inheritance is fraught with failure and abdication?
At successive junctures of life I reflect and review, take stock of my lifetime. This is a time that is common to all, (most people do this at New Year's) and is a time spent attempting to honestly evaluate the decisions and consequences from the prior time. As I have quoted before 'the unexamined life is not worth living'. Time must be spent critically analyzing our time. This is what creates the contextual hardship of reflective thought. I base my objectivity of analyses within a framework of time. This current time and time past. I attempt to ascertain the meaning and purpose of life, both past and present, within the structure of time.
A key word in the Book of Ecclesiastes, used 34 times (more than any other key word) is 'meaningless', also translated 'vanity' or 'emptiness'. Solomon, who had asked for and received from God an inordinate amount of wisdom and knowledge, striving by determined effort to make sense of human life was led to the same tragic conclusion of many modern philosophers. Life is absurd. Solomon here was looking for meaning within time - however, within these limits, life becomes absurd and meaningless, and no one has any assured prospect of personal fulfillment - Solomon could find no satisfying purpose for life—within the limits he had set, that of time. Life is random. There is no meaning or purpose in human experience; life experience. Life is senseless. There may be fleeting joys, those experiences of temporal sensory ecstasy; fleeting happiness, those temporal experiences of good fortune and contentment,"O happiness! our being’s end and aim!" is a sad lament, not a declaration of victory; fleeting pleasures, those preferred experiences of personal desires fulfilled; fleeting... "Vanity of vanities," says the Preacher; "Vanity of vanities, all is vanity." Life is illogical. Ultimately, above the doorway through which men are born into this world and the doorway through which they pass into death is written the same phrase: "Meaningless, meaningless, everything is meaningless."
Eccles. 1:3, "What profit has a man from all his labor in which he toils under the sun?"
Eccles. 1:9, "That which has been is what will be, that which is done is what will be done, and there is nothing new under the sun."
Eccles. 1:15, "What is crooked cannot be made straight, and what is lacking cannot be numbered."
"Die before you die, for there is no chance after death."
Solomon's search and discovery resulted in vexation, frustration, apathy, fruitlessness, dissatisfaction. lamentation, and mourning. Solomon's search lead him to despair, weariness, madness and folly, watching those who win without effort the unattainable by the utmost effort of others. The concrete examples taken from life experience and observation are intentional in challenging the view that life can be objectively represented in a way that we find satisfying.
Eccles. 1:18, "For in much wisdom is much grief, and he who increases knowledge increases sorrow."
Life is what has been handed to me, it has been all that is left over, only my share and in that was the love and the suffering, the loving and the devouring.